Lessons from a Youth Baseball Coach: Lesson #4: Plan, Plan, Plan

August 15, 2009


For a youth baseball coach, one cannot emphasize enough the importance of a little bit of planning prior to a game or practice; it makes all of the difference for a smooth running event. Advanced planning for practices makes the time fly for the players. A little bit of good planning also makes it more fun; the players are kept busy and are not bored. Youth baseball practices are notorious for one coach and one player going through a drill, while the remainder of the team looks on in boredom. A little planning prior to a game keeps players from being short changed on playing time and overlooked for the positions they might want to play. It also speeds up a game; coaches no longer have to gather the team outside the dugout to divvy up the positions every time they take the field.

Don’t be shy during practices – draft as many moms and dads as you can to be assistant coaches, then put them to work. Give each assistant a drill and teach them the way you would like it taught. Break the team up into groups that will visit each drill station. Keep the stations busy and keep the players moving between stations. Normally coaches will see plenty of parents standing around watching their players practice. There are drills even the most inexperienced dad or mom can handle. And face it, the parents are probably bored also by just sitting around watching.

You will need two full time assistant coaches in addition to your practice parents. The three of you will have distinct and special roles: one coach will be the hitting coach, one coach will be the pitching coach, and the third coach will be in charge of teaching team defense, base running, and defensive scenarios. Every coach usually has two parents capable of filling those roles. As the head coach, assign each assistant to the duty he or she is most comfortable with, and take on the remaining duty, yourself.

To help keep games organized and running smoothly, splurge for two dry erase boards (8.5 X 11) to hang in the dugout. One board will have defensive positions for the upcoming inning and the other board will have the batting order, substitutions, and the score, by inning. It is hard to exaggerate how much this helps keep things organized and running smoothly. It gets rid of the delays that occur when coaches change the defense. It also gets rid of the confusion regarding the player that batted last. Just make a mark next to the next batter and the confusion is alleviated when your team returns to the dugout to bat.

I believe that the head coach belongs in the dugout. That is simply the best way to control the game. Educate your assistants on how you want them to coach first base and third base. Delegate and put some faith in some of your parents; they won’t let you down and on the flip-side, the more your parents are involved in practices, the less complaining you will hear from the crowd at actual games.

We will include more details concerning game and practice planning in upcoming lessons.

This is the third lesson, of many, contained within the article “Lessons from a Youth Baseball Coach”. Upcoming lessons will include detailed planning for practices and games, choosing the right glove and bat, fielding, base running, philosophy, and a myriad of baseball subjects. Baseball Armory – “The Baseball Blog” contains all of the lessons. Baseball Armory – “The Baseball Blog” is sponsored by Baseball Armory. Baseball Armory is an online store that contains quality Akadema baseball and softball gear. Akadema produces high quality baseball and softball equipment, including infield and outfield gloves, catcher’s mitts, metal and wood bats, cleats, turf shoes, youth batting gloves, sunglasses, apparel, equipment bags, glove care products, and miscellaneous baseball and softball accessories.

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